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Rare Replay

Platform(s): Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Release Date: Aug. 4, 2015


Xbox One Preview - 'Rare Replay'

by Thomas Wilde on July 2, 2015 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Rare brings together the adventures of its iconic characters in a collection of 30 games that span the decades.

Rare has had a long and bizarre history. It started off making games for the ZX Spectrum under the name Ultimate Play the Game and then moved into development on the NES, where it produced several of the system's tentpole titles, including Cobra Triangle, RC Pro-Am, Solar Jetman and the infamous Battletoads. It went on to be one of the only third-party developers worth talking about on the Nintendo 64, creating Banjo-Kazooie, Blast Corps, Conker's Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark.

After its acquisition by Microsoft in 2002, Rare became a first-party developer on the Xbox, creating Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Piñata, among other things.

This is all important because Rare Replay isn't a greatest-hits package. With the exception of a couple of licensed games, such as Battletoads vs. Double Dragon — who even owns the Double Dragon IP right now, anyway? Majesco? this is everything Rare ever did, ranging from Spectrum games like 1983's Jetpac all the way up to 2008's Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise. Replay is, as the developer likes to put it, a 30th-anniversary collection with 30 games for 30 dollars, with an elaborate presentation that brings old carnival shows to mind.

Twenty-five of the 30 games were available at E3, reproduced just about perfectly, with an assortment of additional features. You can tweak the games using visual filters to more accurately reproduce their original appearance, making them look as if they're being played on old CRTs. The game also contains numerous making-of and behind-the-scenes videos with Rare's developers, as well as multiple challenge modes built out of the games.

One mode they showcased at E3 was an infinite version of the infamous speeder-bike level in the original Battletoads, which is notorious for stopping most players dead in their tracks. Passing the challenge requires a player to survive on that stage for 90 seconds. Someone on the show floor made it for 31 minutes. (Relatedly, guys, I think there were super-advanced androids working undercover at E3.)

One touted feature of the Replay package is that the entire thing will be worth a total of 10,000 achievement points, spread unevenly throughout the various games. In the case of the more recent releases like Viva Piñata, which shipped with achievements already in place, Replay will be able to pull your Gamerscore and progress off of the cloud.

That, in turn, suggests that this is an exploratory project from Rare. Since your achievement progress is tracked by Xbox Live, it'll be easy for Microsoft and Rare to tell which of the games on Replay is getting the most attention and play time, and that in turn means the possibility of a new game in that series.

We are staring down the barrel of a next-gen Battletoads, people. Do not ruin this for me.

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